Frank Oz's 1986 film adaptation of the hit Broadway musical Little Shop of Horrors (itself an adaptation of a Roger Corman B-movie classic) is a bona fide cult classic today, but fans of the musical might have noticed something very different about the ending when they saw the movie. Turns out the flick's finale was changed for the theatrical release because the original ending just bummed audiences out.
The film version of the Alan Menken and Howard Ashman musical ends with Seymour (Rick Moranis) and Audrey (Ellen Green) falling in love and getting a happy ending after Seymour manages to defeat the bloodthirsty giant plant known as Audrey II. But in the musical, things turned out much worse for the young lovers. Audrey II eats Audrey, then Seymour, and after Audrey II clippings become a nationwide craze the evil plant returns at full strength to devour New York with her offspring. It's awesome if you're a monster movie fan, but not so great if you were hoping for that perfect love-story sendoff.
Oz always intended to use the original ending for his film, particularly because he wanted to do a full-scale monster movie homage, but test audiences loathed the film's bloody climax.
"I remember running over to [producer David Geffen], saying, 'It's fantastic!' and David just kind of looking at me," Menken said. "And then apparently the cards showed up and it was like, 'Oh my god.'"
To avoid a box-office disaster, the film was recut to give Seymour and Audrey the happy ending audiences wanted. Now the original ending has been restored in a 25th anniversary director's cut hitting Blu-ray this week. The new release has prompted the creators to wonder if the original ending would play better today, and for Menken at least, the answer is yes.
"I think yes," he said.. "How much better, I don't know, but it would have definitely had a better reception, for sure. I don't think people were prepared for what it was, but over the years, people evolve and people's perception of musicals and movie musicals have evolved."
As for Oz, he's always believed in the ending. He just sees it as a different kind of humor.
"The sense of humor [between the endings] is different," he said. "It still works but it works in a different way and I think audiences need to be prepared for the over-the-topness of the movie as it was originally done."
To check out a clip of the New York destruction from the original ending, head over to EW. What do you think? Which ending would you rather have seen?